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Laura Blair Butler – Divorce and Family Law Attorney
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Virginia allows a court that has entered an order to amend or modify the order as circumstances change. Normally, a two-part test must be considered:
The party seeking a modification has the burden of proving the changed circumstances.
When requesting an amendment, the initiating party usually must give the court and other party written notice of their intended change 30 days prior. However, taking action without proper notification and court approval could spell significant legal trouble.
Petition to Modify a Court Custody Order.
There is never a straight forward answer about a petition to modify a court order, but whenever a child is involved, the judge will always consider what’s in the best interest of the child. In most cases, the judge will consider criteria similar to the following:
When a Material Change in Circumstances Occur.
Va Code states that courts may, on petition of either of the parents, on its own, or upon petition of any probation officer or the Departments of Social Services, which petition shall set forth the reasons for the relief sought, revise and alter such decree concerning the care, custody, and maintenance of the child and make a new decree concerning the same, as the circumstances of the parents and the benefit of the child may require. The intentional withholding of visitation of a child from the other parent without just cause may constitute a material change of circumstances justifying a change of custody in the discretion of the court.
No support order may be retroactively modified, but may be modified with respect to any period during which there is a pending petition for modification in any court, but only from the date that notice of such petition has been given to the responding party.
Petition to Modify a Child Support Order.
In general, at least three years must have passed since the child support order was entered, before a parent may petition the court for a change in support. A parent can request a change earlier than three years when special circumstances warrant, such as:
Even if three years has passed, the court will require supporting evidence for a change.
Petition to Modify a Visitation Order.
The criteria needed to petition the court to modify a visitation order is very similar to the criteria for modifying a custody order. The petitioner must show it’s in the best interest of the child for a change. When filing a petition, it’s best to have as much of the following information as possible:
Granting a Court Ordered Modification.
Unless a parent can prove there is a material change in circumstances, and provide evidence that a change is in the best interest of the child, a court will most likely not grant the petition to modify custody, support or visitation. We can help you understand your options and assist with filing petitions.
Our fee structure: We handle cases on a flat fee or hourly basis depending on the complexity of your case. We offer initial consultations at a reduced hourly rate. At the end of the consultation, we can determine the appropriate fee structure for your case, and you can evaluate our services and decide if you want to hire us.
Your Next Step:
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We have three offices conveniently located in Charlottesville, Palmyra (Across from Food Lion), and Harrisonburg, Virginia.
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